The Gospell According to Everyone and his Mother

It’s coming on Christmas

they’re cutting down the trees

they’re putting up reindeer

and singing songs of joy and peace

oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on.

-Joni Mitchell, River

 This time of year brings about a plethora of religious fanatics all intent on convincing me that my life is spit without Jesus. This being strong opinion I will not negate the idea that He is real, He is there for us and that we are nothing without him but if you hold me down and twist my arm until I cry commitment to his salvation, I feel you’ve probably done nothing more than create a false following for the Son of God. Go back to your school English literature folks and pick up that classic story by Langston Hughes called “salvation“-such a good story I put a link to it. Read it and hear what’s being said folks. Religious fervor is a motherfucker.

Back on the seventh of July in 1977 (yes, that was 7/7/77) I was in the military and invited by the Tech Sargent and his wife who lived in the apartment below me to attend their church service that weekend. I was new to the Austin Texas area and felt it might do me well to develop some friends there so I attended the service, not knowing that his church was a real bible thumping Southern Pentecostal church. We get there and the service starts and people are throwing their hands in the air and signing hymns I’d never heard before, nothing like the classics I was used to. Songs that kept repeating the name Jesus about 15 times in one stanza, Jesus is great, I am not, Jesus died for me, Jesus died for you, Jesus died so you could have creamed corn, blah blah blah.  Some of the newer hymns I’ve heard are about as moving as some of the newer music put out these days; big lack of real artistic substance, heavy on the repetitive mantra.

The sermon starts up and the preacher starts talking about how that particular day, seven seven seventy-seven, was the day Jesus was coming back to Earth and the Rapture would begin. The crowd’s eyes started growing wider and everyone leaned in a bit closer, more hands flew in the air and grown men wept. The Preacher said we had to believe and we all had to be saved. Some elderly gentleman a few rows from the front, tired and exhausted from old age (I imagine) started nodding off which drove the Preacher crazy. The man of God picked a Hymn book off his podium and threw it at the old man hitting him square in the head. “You will not be falling asleep for this people” he roared and insisted the doors be locked so no one could sneak their way out before the Rapture came. A call was made out to all those not baptized to come to the front and be saved. I remembered reading that classic Hughes tale from long ago and knew what my options were; I could fake it or stand defiant. I actually opted out for a third option and told them I had already been baptized just to get their claws off me. Needless to say the Rapture didn’t happen that day, hasn’t happened since and may not happen for quite some time. The point being that the hell this man put everyone in that congregation through was uncalled for and somewhat humiliating…more-so to the true believer of Christ (in my opinion) by mocking their faith in Him. Talk about taking the Lord’s name in vain, this is a brutal example of that. This is the kind of shit that kept Moses on the sidelines when they got to the Promised Land, vanity in the name of God.

So it is at this time of year that I feel the true spirit of giving, the warmth of humankind helping one another get through another day on this spinning marble and the hope of a better, brighter future for all. Shoving Jesus down my throat does not make me more compassionate or forgiving. His teachings were a great example to read and learn from but using it as ammunition to create barriers between the people of this world will only fuel more hatred amongst us. You don’t see masses of Jews taking to our streets at this time of year insisting you believe in their ways or else. People scream how radical Islamic faith is, do you really see a difference in their approach to recruiting and Christianity? You think extremist Muslims are whacked, have you watched footage of abortion clinics being bombed? My wish for the upcoming year is that everyone is able to take it down a notch or two because all the superstitious prattle about 2012 is going to bring every nut job and his mother out of the woodwork, all ready to tell you which way to run. I hope that cooler heads prevail and we all just……get along.


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